Favorite Book Quotes Tag

Rules:
1. Mention the creator of the tag (Celine @Celinelingg).
2. Mention the blogger who tagged you.
3. List down 5 of your favourite book quotes along with the reasons.
4. Spread the love and tag some people to participate and connect! (There’s no limit in number, so have some fun and just tag!).

I was tagged by the lovely Aurora for this.  I’ve actually done a couple of posts about my favorite quotes before – HERE and HERE – but those posts are from over a year ago, so for this tag I decided to focus on quotes from books I read in 2018.  None of these books are going to surprise you if you’ve been around here for a while, but let’s do this anyway!
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1. Medea by Christa Wolf, translated from the German by John Cullen

“It’s possible they sense my unbelief, my lack of faith in anything. It’s possible they can’t bear that. When I ran over the field where the frenzied women had strewn your dismembered limbs, when I ran over that field, wailing in the deepening darkness, and gathered you up, poor, broken brother, piece by piece, bone by bone, that’s when I stopped believing. How could we be meant to come back to this earth in a new form. Why should a dead man’s limbs, scattered over a field, make that field fertile. Why should the gods, who demand from us continual proofs of gratitude and submission, let us die in order to send us back to earth again. Your death opened my eyes wide, Apsyrtus. For the first time I found solace in the fact that I don’t have to live forever. And then I was able to let go of that belief born out of fear; to be more exact, it repelled me.”

Anything I can say about this passage sounds silly and trite in comparison to Wolf and Cullen’s searing prose, but this is just one of those paragraphs that I had to stop and reread and then reread again.  The imagery she evokes of her dead brother’s decimated body is striking (‘Why should a dead man’s limbs, scattered over a field, make that field fertile,’ that’s so good), and the theme of questioning faith is something that never fails to engage me.

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2. Tin Man by Sarah Winman

And I wonder what the sound of a heart breaking might be. And I think it might be quiet, unperceptively so, and not dramatic at all. Like the sound of an exhausted swallow falling gently to earth.

This is one of those quotes that I don’t think sounds spectacular out of context (not that it sounds bad, necessarily, I’m just not one for grand statements about love and heartbreak), but paired with another line that comes later in the book, this absolutely broke me.

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3. Sight by Jessie Greengrass

“I want only what I think we all must want: to come off as better than I ought, more generous, more sure–kinder than I know myself to be; but I want also to be known, to be counted and to be excused. I can’t have both.”

This line gets right to the heart of something that I think so many women struggle with, or at least I do, certainly.  The tension between person and persona, between the true self and projected self, is something I find fascinating and while I didn’t love Sight from start to finish, this is one element of that novel that really resonated with me.

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4. The Idiot by Elif Batuman

“Even though I had a deep conviction that I was good at writing, and that in some way I already was a writer, this conviction was completely independent of my having ever written anything, or being able to imagine ever writing anything, that I thought anyone would like to read.”

I’ve mentioned this line a couple of times on my blog and I’m not sure what else to say about it other than that it makes me feel seen (which in this case feels more accusatory than validating if I’m being completely honest).  I felt such a strong connection to this character, and to her relationship with writing in particular, how she felt she perceived the world as a writer did, how she knew she had some kind of innate talent for writing, but mostly kept that inside her.  I bet if I ever write a book in my lifetime it will be something like The Idiot and I apologize in advance to everyone who will be thoroughly bored by it.

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5. In Our Mad and Furious City by Guy Gunaratne

So here it all is, this London. A place that you can love, make rhymes out of pyres and a romance of the colours, talk gladly of the changes and the flux and the rise and the fall without feeling its storm rain on your skin and its bone-scarring winds, a city that won’t love you back unless you become insoluble to the fury, the madness of bound and unbound peoples and the immovables of the place.

The rhythm of Gunaratne’s prose in this novel is almost visceral to read, it’s the kind of writing you want to read out loud over and over to make sure you’re fully grasping the nuance of it.  I just think his imagery is wonderful (‘rhymes out of pyres,’ how brilliant) and this passage captures the frenetic energy of this novel so well.

And, bonus, from one of my first 2019 reads:

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6. Mother Winter by Sophia Shalmiyev

When you’re fished out, you will go to your proper place in a museum to be admired by me only. I will polish your bronze name plaque, and I will be writing the small paragraph, printed on heavy card stock in a tastefully solemn font, about you as a priceless relic, a found shard, degraded, a puzzling piece of history. A head lost, bust found somewhere, a battered woman with blank eyes, erected by those who had infinite worship in their hearts.

This is from an ARC so I’m going to have to check this against the finished copy, but still, I found this passage (regarding a dream where Shalmiyev imagines her mother as a statue submerged underwater) so arresting, and such a vivid description of something that plagues Shalmiyev throughout her memoir – the unresolved love she has for her absent mother that her other family shames her for.

Tagging: Hannah | Callum | Hadeer | Patrick | Emily | anyone who wants to do this

Favorite Book Quotes

Earlier this week, the Top 5 Tuesday prompt was Top 5 Book Quotes.  Narrowing it down was pretty excruciating, so I wanted to make a post with some of the quotes that didn’t quite make the shortlist.  This is by no means a comprehensive list, just a few more favorites… enjoy!  (None of these contain spoilers, which tragically meant I had to omit the final paragraph of Never Let Me Go, which is one of my favorite pieces of writing of all time.)

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“All great and precious things are lonely.”

— John Steinbeck, East of Eden

 


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“Me, I want to bloody kick this moronic bloody world in the bloody teeth over and over till it bloody understands that not hurting people is ten bloody thousand times more bloody important than being right.”

— David Mitchell, Black Swan Green

 


17333319“Those who are not being dragged to their deaths cannot understand how the heart grows hard and sharp, until it is a nest of rocks with only an empty egg in it. I am barren; nothing will grow from me anymore. I am the dead fish drying in the cold air. I am the dead bird on the shore. I am dry, I am not certain I will bleed when they drag me out to meet the axe. No, I am still warm, my blood still howls in my veins like the wind itself, and it shakes the empty nest and asks where all the birds have gone, where have they gone?”

— Hannah Kent, Burial Rites 


33253215“A line came into my mind, something that Hannah Arendt once said about the poet Auden: that life had manifested the heart’s invisible furies on his face.”

— John Boyne, The Heart’s Invisible Furies

 


41cigepew5l-_sy344_bo1204203200_“There was no signature, but instead a tag from the Iliad, in Greek.  It was from the eleventh book, when Odysseus, cut off from his friends, finds himself alone and on enemy territory:

Be strong, saith my heart; I am a soldier;
I have seen worse sights than this.”

— Donna Tartt, The Secret History

NB.  Sorry, I’m a classics nerd, so I have to make a note about this.  This is NOT a quote from the Iliad – the closest it comes is to a line from the Odyssey, book XX, when Odysseus is contemplating the task ahead of him in challenging Penelope’s suitors, which translates to “Be firm, my heart! For you have endured even worse things than this.”  I don’t think anyone knows Donna Tartt’s exact motivation in attributing this line to the wrong book, or why she says Odysseus’s night raid in the Iliad occurred in book 11 when it was actually book 10, but I’m just being pedantic.  Wherever they’re from, for whatever reason Tartt choose to write them here, they’re gorgeous words.


1371“So the immortals spun our lives that we, we wretched men
live on to bear such torments—the gods live free of sorrows.”

— Homer, the Iliad (translated by Robert Fagles)

 


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“I walked on the river, which swirled like smoke under me, and I was moonlight.”

— David Malouf, An Imaginary Life

 


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“When he sacrifices himself man for a moment is greater than God, for how can God, infinite and omnipotent, sacrifice himself?”

— W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor’s Edge

 


12912“All the rest they burn, unnumbered and unsung,
an enormous tangled mass of bloody carnage waits
and the wasteland far and wide lights up with fires,
with pyre on pyre striving to outblaze the last.”

— Vergil, the Aeneid (translated by Robert Fagles)


 

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“Living everyday in the presence of those who refuse to acknowledge your humanity takes great courage.”

— Min Jin Lee, Pachinko

 


41nsvhy8t2bl-_sx322_bo1204203200_“The feeling that she had never really lived in this world caught her by surprise. It was a fact. She had never lived. Even as a child, as far back as she could remember, she had done nothing but endure. She had believed in her own inherent goodness, her humanity, and lived accordingly, never causing anyone harm. Her devotion to doing things the right way had been unflagging, all her successes had depended on it, and she would have gone on like that indefinitely. She didn’t understand why, but faced with those decaying buildings and straggling grasses, she was nothing but a child who had never lived.”

— Han Kang, The Vegetarian (translated by Deborah Smith)


 

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“What was lost in the collapse: almost everything, almost everyone, but there is still such beauty.”

— Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven

 


44796“Each one of us is alone in the world. He is shut in a tower of brass, and can communicate with his fellows only by signs, and the signs have no common value, so that their sense is vague and uncertain. We seek pitifully to convey to others the treasures of our heart, but they have not the power to accept them, and so we go lonely, side by side but not together, unable to know our fellows and unknown by them. We are like people living in a country whose language they know so little that, with all manner of beautiful and profound things to say, they are condemned to the banalities of the conversation manual. Their brain is seething with ideas, and they can only tell you that the umbrella of the gardener’s aunt is in the house.”

— W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence


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“There are no bargains between lions and men. I will kill you and eat you raw.”

— Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles

 


24280Il dort. Quoique le sort fut pour lui bien étrange,
Il vivait. Il mourut quand il n’eut plus son ange.
La choise simplement d’elle-même arriva.
Comme la nuit se fait lorsque le jour s’en va.

He is asleep. Though his mettle was sorely tried,
He lived, and when he lost his angel, died.
It happened calmly, on its own.
The way night comes when day is done.”

— Victor Hugo, Les Misérables


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“‘I’m lonely,’ he says aloud, and the silence of the apartment absorbs the words like blood soaking into cotton.”

— Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life

 


29441096“I hold onto her and tell her I love her and tell her I’ll do anything she wants me to do but beyond my words and her weight in my arms there’s the knowing we fucked this up. There was something beautiful here once.”

— Lisa McInerney, The Glorious Heresies